Louis de Jager carded his lowest European Tour round to take a two-shot lead on day one of the Portugal Masters.
The South African has made just two cuts at his last 11 events and faces a battlw to retain his card, but leads the way after signing for an eight-under first round of 63 at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course.
De Jager made eight birdies in a blemish-free round on Thursday, hitting the turn in 31 after starting on the back nine in Vilamoura.
The 32-year-old made another gain at the second and held a three-shot advantage after a 25-foot putt at the sixth gave him back-to-back birdies.
De Jager's compatriot Justin Walters, Englishman Oliver Fisher and Australian Jake McLeod share second spot after hitting the ground running with six-under 65s.
Fisher made the first ever 59 in European Tour history at this event last season and could create more special memories this week after dropping just the one shot at the 16th.
McLeod requires a top-two finish to have any chance of keeping his playing privileges and he got off to a promising start, making three birdies on the front nine and as many after the turn.
Walters and McLeod were bogey-free in their opening rounds, while Brandon Stone and Darren Fichardt are another South African duo well poised in a group of seven players on five under.